Jennifer Sliwka and Donal Cooper, "Site and context: Botticini's 'Assumption' and the lost church of San Pier Maggiore, Florence"


Friday, March 11, 2016, 6:00pm to 7:30pm


Gould Hall

Francesco Botticini’s painting of the Assumption of the Virgin has bewildered scholars for centuries and is currently the focus of ‘Visions of Paradise: Botticini’s Palmieri Altarpiece’ an exhibition at the National Gallery, London which showcases new research on this monumental work, clarifying long-perpetuated misunderstandings about its authorship, date, original location, and iconography. This talk will provide insight into the genesis of the exhibition and the discoveries made during the course of research, including a discussion of the digital reconstruction of the former church of San Pier Maggiore, where the painting was installed in 1477. The reconstruction, a collaboration between the National Gallery and the University of Cambridge, is the first attempt to re-imagine the Florentine church, which was largely destroyed in the 18th century. 

Jennifer Sliwka, curator of the ‘Visions of Paradise’ exhibition, is currently the Jean-François Malle Fellow at Villa I Tatti where she is writing a book Domenico Beccafumi and Siena Cathedral. She joined the National Gallery in 2007, contributing to a number of exhibitions including ‘Renaissance Siena: Art for a City’ (2007-08) and ‘Pompeo Batoni’ (2008) and was co-curator of ‘Devotion by Design: Italian Altarpieces before 1500’ (2011).  She has published on Italian Renaissance art in a variety of media and on exhibition practice.

Donal Cooper is University Lecturer in Italian Renaissance Art at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Jesus College. He has published widely on ecclesiastical art and architecture in late medieval and Renaissance Italy with a particular focus on the patronage of the Franciscan order. His co-authored monograph with Janet Robson, The Making of Assisi, won the 2014 Art Book Prize. Donal has collaborated with museum colleagues on two digital reconstructions of Florentine churches, Santa Chiara (V&A, 2009) and San Pier Maggiore (National Gallery, 2015). In 2009-10 he held a Hannah Kiel Fellowship at Villa I Tatti.